Tuesday, July 12, 2022

the Other


Everything we thought we knew about the background of one of our greatest Olympians is wrong.

On several occasions, I have spoken as an expert witness and character witness at the appeal hearing of an asylum-seeker. The Home Office lawyer has always suggested that the person whose appeal is being heard is lying, and that I, along with all other ministers of religion, am naïve. I respond, you are clearly not an ignorant man; you are surely aware that frightened people lie to protect themselves from further perceived harm, and that traumatised people bury their past and construct origin stories as a survival mechanism: I can only assume that you are victim-blaming.

Mo Farah is not deserving of special treatment, that sets him apart from others in similar circumstances; but, rather, of the embrace and inclusion that all should receive. You don’t need to be an Olympian to build a new life and contribute to society, to British life.

I am thankful for the teachers who saw him, fought for him, who have helped him come to the time and place, years later, where he can tell a fuller story. And I am praying for all people like them, and for more people like them, who will embrace the Other.


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